Can a DNA test help you find true love?

Boy meets girl, boy kisses girl, girl has boy’s DNA tested to see if he is a player. Wait, what? Sci­en­tists can now DNA test a cou­ple to pre­dict how long the re­la­tion­ship could last and who will be faith­ful. Would you do it? By Rosie Squires

CLEO (Malaysia) - - FRONT PAGE -

Poets may rant about ro­man­tic fate, but now a sim­ple (and oh-so sexy) mouth swab might be able to tell you if that new lover could be The One. Pro­fes­sor Michael illings, a bi­ol­o­gist from Mac­quarie Univer­sity in Syd­ney, tells CLEO there have been ad­vances in sev­eral ar­eas that make this seem­ingly sci-fi process a re­al­ity. “Hu­man NA anal­y­sis, brain imag­ing, and un­der­stand­ing of how hor­mones in­ter­act have led us to bet­ter un­der­stand love,” he ex­plains. “We can rate the sin­cer­ity of love by analysing a cou­ple of key genes and neu­ro­trans­mit­ters: oxy­tocin, sero­tonin, and va­so­pressin.” By next year, a NA test that de­ter­mines if you and your lover are likely to last will hit Aus­tralia. But is it a test we want to take?

How Deep Is Your Love?

“At the be­gin­ning of a re­la­tion­ship, our oxy­tocin lev­els are el­e­vated,” illings says. Oxy­tocin, known as the cud­dle hor­mone, is re­lated to trust, bond­ing, and em­pa­thy, and is re­leased dur­ing child­birth, or­gasm, and ro­mance. “Mea­sur­ing the lev­els of oxy­tocin in each part­ner is ac­tu­ally a good pre­dic­tor of how long the re­la­tion­ship is go­ing to last,” illings re­veals. “You could get a blood sam­ple from your new boyfriend or girl­friend and find out how long they are go­ing to hang around.” Brain imag­ing also re­veals lev­els of oxy­tocin dur­ing early ro­man­tic love. The higher the oxy­tocin lev­els, the deeper the love and more likely it is to last. So now all you have to fig­ure out

is how to work, “Hey, baby, let’s go get some brain scans this weekend” into your con­ver­sa­tion… So what about early on, when be­ing apart from your new love feels like los­ing an arm? Well, that’s more phys­i­o­log­i­cal than spir­i­tual too. The neu­ro­trans­mit­ter sero­tonin is as­so­ci­ated with mood, and Gillings says people with very low lev­els of sero­tonin are of­ten di­ag­nosed with ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive dis­or­der. “They are ob­ses­sive and emo­tion­ally in­tense,” he says. “For some, sero­tonin is also dra­mat­i­cally low­ered in the early stages of ro­man­tic love,” Gillings ex­plains. “People be­come ob­sessed with their new love. It’s a style of lov­ing called ma­nia. Cal­cu­lat­ing the sero­tonin lev­els can re­veal how ob­sessed we are with our new lover.”

Cheat Sheet

“There’s even a test to find out if your guy is a player and it works like this: va­so­pressin is a hor­mone that af­fects so­cial be­hav­iour, and there are genes that con­trol this hor­mone,” Gillings ex­plains. “The sec­tion in front of the gene is a good in­di­ca­tor of fidelity,” he says. The strength of a per­son’s emo­tional at­tach­ment is linked to the length of that front sec­tion of the gene. In a re­cent study pub­lished in Na­ture Neu­ro­science, re­searchers mon­i­tored ro­dents and found the males were

Look, I can’t help it – I’ve got this gene that makes me pro­mis­cu­ous.

monog­a­mous and took care of their fe­males and young. But an­other re­lated ro­dent – who had a shorter part of this par­tic­u­lar gene than their cousins – pre­ferred to live the player’s life. The males would mate and leave, not stay­ing to care for their fam­ily. “The kicker is that you can take the gene from the [first ro­dent] and in­ject it into the [sec­ond ro­dent’s] brain and, all of a sud­den, this pro­mis­cu­ous ro­dent be­comes a stay-at-home dad. It’s a gene that looks to con­trol promis­cu­ity and parental in­vest­ment – and hu­mans have it.” Gillings says DNA se­quenc­ing can ac­tu­ally re­veal the length of a per­son’s fidelity gene. “When you are go­ing out with a new guy, you could get a sam­ple of his DNA, se­quence it and say, ‘I’m not go­ing out with him, he’s got a tiny part of this gene that would be a good pre­dic­tion he is go­ing to be pro­mis­cu­ous.’”

Here And Now

These tests are cur­rently avail­able in labs, but molec­u­lar bi­ol­o­gists are work­ing on tech­nol­ogy that would al­low people to do the test at home. “It’s called nanopore DNA se­quenc­ing. It will be avail­able to ev­ery­one and it’ll be re­ally cheap,” Gillings ex­plains. “The ma­chines will be about the size of a USB stick. Op­er­at­ing on a lap­top, it will gen­er­ate a DNA se­quence us­ing the sam­ple you put in.” The tech­nol­ogy will be out in months and will cost about RM2639, but Gillings pre­dicts that in 10 years’ time even su­per­mar­kets will stock these mini ma­chines. Fu­ture di­vorce bat­tles may also be ar­gued over the pres­ence of these genes, he adds. “An ex­cuse for be­ing adul­ter­ous might be, ‘Look, I can’t help it – I’ve got this gene that makes me pro­mis­cu­ous’.

Moral Mad­ness?

“While se­ri­ously im­pres­sive, these ad­vance­ments present some moral and eth­i­cal dilem­mas,” says Gillings. “I pre­dict there’ll be DNA match­mak­ing ser­vices, and I worry that people are go­ing to set up test­ing for these things, but not have the proper coun­selling to give rea­son­able ad­vice. Af­ter all, our be­hav­iour is af­fected by our en­vi­ron­ment. You may have the gene for promis­cu­ity, but if you have been cheated on a num­ber of times and know how that feels, as a re­sult, you might never cheat.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.